Humanistic psychology is a school of thought that emphasizes individuals' emotional, spiritual, creative, and personal growth. This branch of psychology dates back to the 1950s and is grounded in the belief that humans are unique and have innate worth. It focuses on values, self-determination, autonomy, and living with intention.
Humanistic psychology is an experientially based practice that looks to comprehensively gain and maintain an understanding of the individual. It views a person's behavior and experiences as a result of their cognitions and inner world.
Humanistic psychology also emphasizes people's self-awareness and growth potential, developed through self-expression and free will. This field of psychology encourages individuals to take ownership of their lives, accept responsibility for their actions, and participate in their healing process.
Abraham Maslow developed one of the most influential models in humanistic psychology, known as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. It proposes that human needs, such as comfort, security, and self-actualization, must be met to achieve mental well-being.
Too many humanistic psychologists, failure is seen not as something to be feared but as an avenue for growth and learning. Failure is viewed positively in humanistic psychology, as it can lead individuals to unique solutions and further insight into their own experiences.
Through Humanistic psychology, therapy is viewed as a journey toward self-discovery and healing by tapping into a person's values and feelings. Individuals can create a more meaningful life and reach a higher level of self-expression and fulfillment.
Another core tenet of Humanistic psychology is the concept of "unconditional positive regard," which views each person as worthy of respect and unconditional acceptance, regardless of their flaws, behavior, or life circumstances.
Humanistic psychology has also been incorporated into educational practices. Through positive reinforcement and self-motivation, teachers can create an environment where children feel seen, empowered, and secure in their learning.
Humanistic psychology also aims to redefine the traditional therapist-client relationship. Instead of being an all-knowing figure, the therapist works as an advocate and guide who helps the client navigate life and grow as an individual.
A hallmark of Humanistic psychology is the role of creativity in the healing process and individual growth. It could include writing, painting, sculpting, or performing—all methods of self-expression and exploring inward and outward realms.
Humanistic psychology is also deeply invested in the relationship between mental and physical well-being through an overall holistic approach to health. Practitioners can understand how food, exercise, and sleep are interrelated to deep emotional and psychological healing.